Review: Jason Yarde Premiere at the Barbican

JasonYarde. (Awaiting correct photo credit)
London Symphony Orchestra, cond.  Francois - Xavier Roth
(Barbican, 13th April 2013. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

Last November in an interview with us, Jason Yarde and Andrew McCormack had told us about a commission which Jason had received as part of the orchestra's Panufinik scheme. The premiere of that newpiece,  Modo Hit Blow, took place in a well-attended early evening concert at the Barbican tonight. It featured the duo with the brass (thirteen players) and percussion of the London Symphony Orchestra, as part of this week's LSO Futures Series, a series of concerts with a focus on new composition.

Modo Hit Blow is an eleven-minute piece in three sections. At a first hearing, it was a consistently lively piece,in which short melodic cells are passed around the different brass groups. I thought I heard echoes of the introductory riff to Bernstein's Something's Coming  from West Side Story, but there again that might just have been the alert and optimistic mood being so carefully set. The sound of Yarde's soprano sax then soared over the brass ensemble. It was over far too quickly and I'd like to hear it again to do it justice. Yarde's programme note makes it clear that he has made the piece adaptable, and that another performance won't have to wait until the next time the world-class brass and percussion ensembles of the LSO happen to make themselves available. 

The highlight of the rest of the programme was Stravinsky's Symphonies of Wind Instruments. To my ears this felt more or less like the definitive performance, for its Boulez-like precision and its pathos, for the perfectly weighted final chords, and for showing three of the LSO's bright young stars: flautist Adam Walker, bass clarinettist Lorenzo Iosco  and trumpeter Philip Cobb.

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